“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~ Pablo Picasso
“Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
Many misconceptions exist around art. Some think real artists create sculptures or paintings. Others believe you are born with talent or not. Most think that since they aren’t good at something, there is no point or benefit. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
As adults we stop playing and we lose the valuable benefits of creative thinking. Here are some of the best ways creative expression can benefit your brain and mental health to make you a happier, healthier person.
Art Activities Relieve Stress
Projects like painting, drawing, sculpting, and photography are relaxing and rewarding pastimes that can decrease your stress levels and increase mental clarity and calm.
Art making is a nice diversion from your normal brain activity and thoughts. The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day and 95 percent of those are the same reoccurring contemplations. Give your brain a break and distract it with some fun art creations.
Art is a gateway to flow, a state of losing all sense of time and space. When you become entirely immersed in a creative endeavor, you may find yourself in the zone. Total immersion of your mind on an engaging activity puts you in a meditative-like state and soothes worries away.
Art is meditative. Creating art is brain training for more detailed focus and attention to your environment.
Art Encourages Creative Thinking
Dr. Lawrence Katz is internationally recognized as an innovator in neuron regeneration research. He is the author of Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness.
Dr. Katz discovered that mental decline was due mainly to the loss of communication between brain cells and not from the death of brain cells as originally thought.
Dr. Katz invented the phrase neurobics. Neurobics involves brain exercises that use your senses in new and novel ways. Art is certainly an activity that is new and novel to many of us.
Art Improves Problem-Solving Skills
Unlike in math, in science, and in most other subjects taught in school, there is not a precise answer in art. During the process, art encourages creative thinking and sets up an opportunity to device your own unique solutions.
Thinking outside the box stimulates your brain to grow new neurons. Art stimulates interaction between both hemispheres of the brain. The best way to utilize your brain is to have both left and right hemispheres communicating with each other. Doing art is one of the best and most fun approaches to increase brain connectivity.
Other activities that enable whole brain thinking include learning a language and playing or listening to music.
Art Advances Self-Esteem and Provides a Sense of Accomplishment
Just as proud parents post their children’s artwork on the refrigerator door to boost self-esteem, hanging your latest work of art on the wall can instill in you the same feeling.
Each time you create and see your piece of art, you are increasing the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is also known as the “motivation molecule.” It boosts drive, focus, and concentration. It enables you to plan ahead and resist impulses so you can achieve your goals.
So go grab your paintbrush, dig your hands in clay, or break out the yarn and knit. All of these activities relieve stress, encourages creative thinking and boosts self-esteem. By the time you have a finished piece, you have a proud sense of accomplishment and all the while you have enhanced your brain connectivity and plasticity.